For three companies with market caps of more than $1.2 trillion combined, it was certainly an enviable position, receiving largely great rapturous press and positive lawmaker reviews. But fast forward to this week and executives for tech giants Facebook, Google, and Twitter have been forced to face some heat before Congress.
The executives have testified at three hearings on how foreign nationals used social media to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. How they respond to the challenge, experts say, could be an important PR and operational step.
The hearings focused on Russian-backed actors manipulating social media coverage in the last presidential campaign. Already, lawmakers are discussing greater transparency that experts say may help the big three. "Accepting a law that requires advertisers to disclose who is funding political ads would be a big step,” says Marc Gasperino, Korn Ferry’s senior client partner & managing director in the firm’s digital practice for the Americas, “and Facebook has already stated that they would be open to such a law.”
Certainly, the organizations will be facing new questions. At Facebook, for example the company has said its new mission is to "Bring the world closer together,” allowing access to new people and connections across regions and various economic, political and religious divides. This is an admirable mission and Facebook certainly has the platform to do it, but Gasperino suggests it and others will need to "invest in more protocol and monitoring."
Gasperino says it makes sense for tech firms in general to incorporate more human monitoring of activities versus technical monitoring, as machines can miss certain subtleties that humans can pickup.